Original prospectors tour Mt. Milligan

Original prospectors Richard Haslinger Sr. and Heidi Haslinger tour Mount Milligan mine.

The father-daughter team and Fort St. James Mayor Rob MacDougal, Mackenzie Mayor Stephanie Killam, Councillor Dave Birdie, Councillor Riley Willick and Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad as well as a number of their respective partners, all received a special tour of the mine, including driving the bus into the pit and seeing the seven-story high shovel in action.

Heidi Haslinger was visiting all the way from Rainier, Washinton, where she now lives and came up to see what the mine looked like as well as to see the new bus which now sports her contest-winning graphic design.

Only 16 years old when she went on the prospecting trip with her father in 1983, Heidi Haslinger remembered the flowers she saw there, with meadows of both crimson and more purple Indian paintbrush. She said she does not recall ever seeing both colours of the flower in one meadow as she did on Mt. Milligan, and this helped inspire the mountain scene on the bus, which has both colours of paintbrush and also lupins in yellow and purple as well.

The trip through the mine in the winter did not reveal any paintbrush meadows, but instead there were views of the tailings storage facility or dam, which will be six kilometres long in order to raise the elevation of the top of the dam to 1,045 m.

Within the pit, mine trucks which hold 240 tonnes of material each were being loaded by the massive shovel, each scoop of the shovel holding 42 cubic metres of material. The shovel itself fully extended reaches around seven stories in height.

Where the primary crusher sits, on top of an earth-stabilized wall, Terry Owen, managing director of projects for the mine, said the earth-stabilized wall under the primary crusher is very exciting for engineers, because it is the tallest one in North America.

The wall is 10 stories high or 33 m.

The site currently has nearly 900 people per day working on the site during the construction.

“We’re really at our peak, at our maximum manpower right now,” said Owen.

The project is still on schedule, according to Owen, and should begin production by the third quarter of this year, and into full production by December.

Once in production, approximately 400 tonnes of concentrate a day will be shipped out of the mine to smelters overseas, requiring about 10 to 15 trucks per day to transport it to rail from the mine.